In recovery we are suddenly free to do new things and experience new people, places, and things, new ideas and feelings. Some of us, however, can’t give ourselves permission to truly live our new way of life. For an addict, “turning it over” to God, to fate or whatever and going with the flow can be scary. For some of us it can be absolutely terrifying. Fear of making mistakes can stifle our recovery, our enjoyment of sobriety and our spiritual growth. Our fears can even lead to the kind of boredom that makes acting out seem like a viable alternative to the tedium and lack of joy, if we allow ourselves to stagnate.
We learn nothing by repeating the same old things that we know how to do already. Whether we’re working, playing or trying something like a strange food or a new hobby — or taking a real chance and meeting a new person or group, or considering new ideas, learning and growth come from taking chances and making mistakes, then taking more chances. No one ever won a rodeo by refusing to get back on the horse. Trying to live our lives in a perfectly controlled environment kills our spirits.
Our newly discovered feelings and living skills open up possibilities that we never dreamed of. What’s the point of all that work if we don’t allow ourselves to savor its fruits? There’s no such thing as total control, even if we choose to live our lives continuously trying to change things we can’t change, and limping along looking over our shoulders and peering around every corner looking for the bogeyman.
Our main goal in recovery after abstinence should be to throw away our old attitudes — our old certainties — and let go so we can experience the new world for which we’ve worked so hard. That needs to be the focus, not getting our lives just right and trying to glue them permanently in place, because that will never happen.
We have no choice about the change, so we may as well enjoy the ride. As the old saying goes, don’t take life too seriously. No matter how careful you are, you’ll never get out of it alive.
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